A big chair isn’t a factor – Tips for recruiting senior level employees

Employing at the top, or near the top level in a management structure can be a challenging process. To start with, the pool of candidates is likely to be reduced because of the experience and/or specialist skills required to fulfil the needs of the role.

While we can help you with this, we all need to recognise that there is a big difference between hiring someone for a more general role and a senior management one. Secondly, and most importantly, the more specialised or higher up the management chain a hire is, the more a bad hire will cost. The impact of a bad hire high up the chain can be huge.

The right candidate will need more than a new office

At the risk of blowing our own trumpet a little, we have an excellent track record of success in sourcing candidates for senior positions. The reason for this is that we have some very clear strategies that we know work and that produce not just results, but the right results. More to the point, because we work closely with our clients, we know exactly what and who we are looking for.

The right candidate will need more than a new office and a bigger chair. They will have specific needs. Growing a working partnership with our clients to create the right offer, is as much a part of our success as our experience and knowledge, so here are a few thoughts about successful recruitment at senior level.

Beware of the internal promotion trap

  • Make it about them, not you. One of the problems with hiring at the top is that they are already likely to be at the top in their profession. While potential promotion up the management structure may be a possibility, in many senior positions, it will be years down the track or simply not an option. Your offer, therefore, really needs to appeal in other ways.
  • Beware of the internal promotion trap. The right person may well be working in your business already, and if they are then fantastic, you have solved your problem. However, don’t be tempted to go with someone who may not work out in the long run simply because it is convenient. A bad hire can come internally as easily as externally. Any internal candidates must still meet your requirements for the job role.

We may need patience to find the right person

  • Stick with it to find the right person. Just as you need to beware of promoting internally out of frustration, you need to do the same for external candidates. Senior positions may well hire more slowly than others due to the need to attract the more passive candidates, so we may need patience to find the right person. That said…
  • Be flexible where possible and where practical. There is a difference between the ideal candidate and the idealised one. We will work with you to really focus down on the key aspects of the job role and candidate profile to allow us to also see where you could have a little more flexibility. For example, we sometimes find that a candidate brief can have some desired skills commuted into development points. This not only potentially opens up the candidate pool; it can actually attract more candidates.

Be active and involve a prospective candidate

  • Be active and involve a prospective candidate in the process. We are likely to be dealing with candidates that will need a little more nurturing to accept the role. Bringing them into the process and allowing them to input into the contact details or job specification as you go will not only produce a sense of ownership, it may also give you a little more insight into how they work. Brainstorming how the role would develop, for example, or perhaps getting their ideas on the market may tip the balance in our favour.
  • You should put company culture higher up the agenda than usual. Management level hires must be invested in your business, your company ethics and your overall structure. We suggest you look for a cultural fit in candidates for any role, but for someone in a senior position, it is vital that you make sure they fit your company culture as well as your job specification.

Hiring for senior positions is a delicate process that requires a specialist approach. Working in partnership with a good recruiting partner is undoubtedly the safest and most successful approach.

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